Initially, rapid tooling is the ability to produce core and cavity inserts through rapid prototyping. It is a product of the additive method using 3D CAD – a method that requires little to no machining. This continues to be the description for some while others have shifted to a new description for rapid tooling to encompass the breadth that this technology has become. In the new definition, it is worth noting the use of the word ‘rapid’. The term rapid tooling has a broader appeal in marketing a product, and this market appeal equates to sales. This loose definition of rapid tooling has become very popular in the manufacturing sector.

A new definition of rapid tooling

Through time, the definition of rapid tooling has evolved to encompass any method that can produce tools at a smaller timeframe compared to other manufacturing methods. If you see an advertisement in a trade exhibit about short delivery time using rapid tooling, this does not consider the backlog, the ideal size of the part, ideal geometry and a realistic molding parameter.

Suffice it to say, rapid tooling technology can do magic, but it has to have the right parameters to match the abilities of the rapid tooling machine. Otherwise, you also need to have a considerable amount of time to make the part. Rapid tooling is the more popular manufacturing process because clients are swearing by the reduced cost and production time. In short, yes it is a great solution if chosen as the right instrument for the job.

Rapid tooling is a result of integrating the rapid prototyping practices with the conventional tooling techniques to make a mold faster from a CAD data faster at a much lesser cost as compared to conventional machining method.

What is conventional tooling?

In manufacturing, smaller production requirements are produced using conventional tooling or also known as single operation tooling. A manufacturing process involves the use of multiple tools in the different stages the product is taking shape until the final form is produced. In conventional tooling, the cost is higher and the production time is much longer.

The difference between rapid tooling and conventional tooling

The first difference between rapid tooling from conventional tooling is speed. This can be seen in smaller and more multifaceted geometries. If you use conventional tooling in this project, you need more manufacturing operations in order to build them. However, if these parameters fit the qualifications of rapid tooling, you can build them in one procedure.

Another difference is in the cost-effectiveness. Rapid tooling has an advantage on the cost of producing complex geometries because it is more difficult to manufacture them using conventional tooling. With rapid tooling, there is also little room for human error that can happen in conventional tooling. Using the CAD model, human error is greatly reduced.

In addition, rapid tooling has the ability to produce outputs with complex designs because of its ability to interpret intricate designs directly from CAD. It allows flexibility in the designs and conforming to customer’s specification. Here the conceptual designs can be improved without incurring higher costs as compared to using the conventional tooling process. All these can contribute to excellent product quality and high manufacturing operation.